The business term change management has been around for a good long while.  The term relates to “initiating significant change” within an organization’s processes.  This change can include anything from altering work culture to embracing diversity to modifying an individual’s work tasks to increasing company morale and loyalty.  The goal of “initiating significant change” is solid, but where is the passion in the word choice? 

The problem with the term “change management” is that no one really desires to change or plans to change.  We desire and plan to progress.  We do not want managers to manage our change. We want leaders to lead our progress.

Let’s call “initiating significant change” what it truly is (or should be):  Progress Leadership.   In a time of continual transformation, committed leaders – Progress Agents –should focus on inspiring the progress, not apologizing for the change.  Progress Agents don’t just TELL people what to do.  Progress Agents include others in the progress as well as the process.  It is reasons that shape, nourish, and sustain the thoughts that create the actions necessary to reach desired results.

“If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” -- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Companies are most successful at “initiating significant change” when the reasons to act connect personally with the individual employees making the alteration in behavior.  If the reasons don’t connect with the individual, then the planned progress will be viewed as merely change and will be resisted or at least not acted on.  Team members may still physically clock in but have often mentally checked out. 

We live in a world of influence.  We are influenced to purchase this, to believe that, to participate in this activity, to attend that event.  This is not a bad thing.  Most often it is good.  Our parents influenced our decision not to play with fire.  Our best friend influenced our decision not to wear corduroy. 

“There is only one way... to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.”  -- Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie wrote his classic How to Win Friends and Influence People way back in 1936, and its wisdom is no less true and vibrantly powerful today.  The book is packed with insight on leading and building strong relationships by lifting people up, making them feel good, and “spurring people on to success.”  Wisely, the book is not called How to Lift People Up and Make Them Feel Good or How to Spur People on to Success.   No, Carnegie’s classic is appropriately titled: How to Win Friends and Influence People.  And who is doing the winning?  It’s you and me, along with the person being lifted up, made to feel good, and spurred on to success (read: influenced and led).  

Contributed by: Dean Lindsay, Award Winning Speaker and Author of The Progress Challenge